“I told you she would come,” he said, not taking his eyes off of me. “She would do just about anything for Ethan.”
Great. Not only was he here, he was waiting for me. I was getting way too familiar with the sensation of falling into his traps.
I swung the barrel of my gun toward Titania. “Call him off!” I ordered her, though I suspected I sounded more frightened than threatening.
The Erlking laughed. “She can’t hear you, remember?”
Dammit! I still had a couple of minutes until the spell wore off, and until it did, only the Erlking could see or hear me.
Gritting my teeth, I pointed the gun at one of the bedposts and pulled the trigger. My aim was lousy, but the bullet scraped a chip of wood off the edge of the post. Titania might not be able to see or hear me, but she could see the bullet and the effect it had had.
“Even though she can’t see me,” I said, “I bet she’s smart enough to understand the message I just sent.”
“Let’s find out, shall we?” he replied, taking a step toward me.
I squeezed the trigger again. My aim was better this time, and the bullet buried itself in the bedpost.
“Arawn, stop!” Titania ordered, a hint of panic in her voice. “I rescind my permission.”
The Erlking had to be annoyed that he’d just lost his chance to capture me and bind me to the Wild Hunt, but he didn’t show it. In fact, he was still grinning like he found this all very amusing. He put his hand to his chest and bowed from the waist, though I wasn’t sure if he meant the gesture as one of respect for the Queen or mockery for me. My hands shook as I loaded two more bullets into the gun and prayed I wouldn’t need to use them.
The air prickled with magic as Titania slid out of the bed. She’d pulled a gauzy wrapper around herself, but it left little to the imagination. Who knew she and the Erlking were so … close? I would have thought the fact that he’d bound Connor to the Wild Hunt for the last thousand years or so might have put a damper on any relationship. Connor was her son, and she was sleeping with the man who’d enslaved him. Nice.
I was pretty sure Titania didn’t have to see me to destroy me with her magic. And because I wasn’t supposed to be able to sense magic, she had no idea I was aware she was gathering her power.
“Tell her to quit it!” I said, and Titania jumped, startled.
“Tell her yourself,” the Erlking said. “The spell wore off.”
Yes. I could tell that by the way the Queen was staring at me in horror. So much for my deep, dark secret.
“Quit calling magic,” I ordered her. I had to stifle a laugh at the thought of me, a half-blooded teenager from the mortal world, ordering around Titania, the Queen of the Seelie Court. But however powerful she might be, my gun scared the crap out of her.
The magic faded from the air, and the Queen stood up straighter, wiping the expression of horror from her face and staring at me with the coldest blue eyes I’d ever seen.
“You dare much,” she said, and if her eyes were cold, her voice was positively icy. “You tried to kill my granddaughter, and now you threaten me. For that I vow to make you suffer.”
I hoped I didn’t look as terrified as I felt. I suspected if Titania wanted to make me suffer, she could be very, very creative about how she did it.
“I didn’t try to kill Princess Elaine,” I said. I sounded calmer than I felt, which was good because otherwise my voice might have shaken too badly for her to understand. “And I’m only threatening you because I don’t know how else to make you listen to my side of the story.”
“She was attacked with a mortal weapon,” Titania argued. “Only a Faeriewalker could have wielded such a weapon.”
I nodded. “That’s true. But I’m not the Faeriewalker who wielded it.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Erlking smile. Of course, he’d known all along I wasn’t behind the bomb. We might not be bestest buds, but he knew me frighteningly well. Well enough to guess that I’d come to the palace once my friends were captured. And easily well enough to know I wouldn’t plant a bomb even against someone I hated, much less against someone I didn’t know.
“There are no other Faeriewalkers,” the Queen snapped, but I thought there might be a hint of doubt in her eyes.
“There has to be at least one other,” I countered, “because I didn’t set that bomb. If the Erlking weren’t here, I could have walked right up to you and shot you in the head without you ever knowing I was here. I could have done the same to Elaine. Or I could have used a knife, so that no one would even guess a Faeriewalker was involved.”
“If there were another Faeriewalker, I would know,” Titania said, but she definitely sounded less sure of herself.
“Why would I want to hurt Elaine? I’d never even met her. And I’ve lived all my life in the mortal world. I don’t give a crap about Faerie politics.”
“I understand you were only a tool,” she said, her voice going all soft and gentle. I didn’t believe it for a moment. “Your father must have thought that Henry would dine with you that night instead of Elaine.”
My heart lurched at the mention of my dad. If Titania had believed all along that he was the mastermind behind the whole bombing scheme …
“Seamus is alive,” the Erlking told me.
I guess my train of thought had been showing on my face. I had to blink rapidly to keep from crying in relief. Maybe I was crazy, but I couldn’t help feeling grateful to Arawn for telling me. I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to ask. Titania flashed him a look of annoyance, perhaps not used to having her thunder stolen.